Best Scope for Mini-14 Ranch Rifle

Best Scope for Mini-14 Ranch Rifle

Figure 1; the original M14 rifle, this one a presentation quality specimen with serial number 0010, the mini 14 takes it's name from this rifle

Before the AR, the mini 14 was THE ubiquitous semi-automatic rifle for law enforcement and civilians. Produced by Sturm, Ruger & Co. the mini 14 shares many features with earlier rifles like the M14 and the M1 carbine. In fact, it is called the mini 14 because it is so similar to the M14. Today we will check out the best scope for the mini 14.

Figure 2; the mini 14 also shares similarities with the M1 carbine

The mini 14 may have been similar to those with earlier rifles. It was actually, however, released in 1973. This was a full 14 years after the AR-15 was designed by the ArmaLite Corporation. That fact doesn’t detract from the mini 14. In many ways it was actually more suitable for the civilian market in the '70’s than the AR-15. The AR was adopted by the US military in 1964. But it wasn’t used by law enforcement agencies until much later. On the other hand, the mini 14 was produced in configurations for law enforcement from the beginning. It was made particularly famous because of its prolific use in the original A-team.

The mini 14 was produced for, and used by, law enforcement agencies. The model we are interested in today is actually the "ranch" model.

Despite its similarities with these rifles it was actually released in 1973 along time after either of these rifles and a full 14 years after the AR-15 was originally designed by the ArmaLite Corporation. That fact doesn’t detract from the mini 14 though, in fact in many ways it was far more suitable for the civilian market in the 70’s than the AR with its militaristic appearance. In fact while the AR, as the M16 was adopted by the US military in 1964 it wasn’t used by law enforcement agencies until much later while the mini 14 was specifically produced in law enforcement configurations from the beginning of its production. It was made particularly famous by its prolific use in the original ‘A-team’ TV series.  While the mini 14 was produced for, and used by, law enforcement agencies the model we are interested in today is the ‘ranch’ model.

Figure 3; a mini14 ranch rifle featuring a lot of accessories including a synthetic collapsible stock and a bipod, my advice though; never use this kind of bipod, attaching something directly to a rifles barrel can affect its accuracy very negatively.

The Mini 14 ranch rifle is offered with a wood or synthetic rifle stock. It either has a blued or stainless steel receiver and barrel. The standard is a length of 18.5 inches. As the name suggests, the mini 14 is a fairly compact rifle ideal for work around the "ranch." It is equally capable in a defensive or tactical role.

The mini 14 ranch comes with an adjustable ghost ring rear sight and winged front sight. Those features are unfortunately lacking on many rifles nowadays. Being able to use open sights is a skill that is diminishing among the shooting community. It is actually a valuable skill to have and the best way to learn to shoot. Mini 14s do also come with a detachable scope rail for fitting your optic of choice. While the open sights are a great feature, you really wouldn’t use this rifle without a scope. The .223/5,56mm cartridge is capable of 500 meters. Open sights will let you hit targets that far, but a scope makes real precision possible.

The ranch rifle might not look like a direct competitor to the AR 15. Still Bill Ruger is on record suggesting that with a little better timing the mini 14 could have competed with the AR 15 as the US military’s assault rifle. While the timing was definitely wrong, there has been a lot of positive feedback on the modern mini 14. It has also been subject to significant backlash because of early accuracy issues.

Additionally, there was the controversial decision by the designer and Bill Ruger to support a magazine ban for over 15 rounds. In 1989 Bill Ruger sent a letter to United States Congress members advocating the banning of high capacity magazines. The letter included the following paragraph, which caused a lot of bad feelings: 

“The best way to address the firepower concern is therefore not to try to outlaw or license many millions of older and perfectly legitimate firearms (which would be a licensing effort of staggering proportions) but to prohibit the possession of high capacity magazines. By a simple, complete and unequivocal ban on large capacity magazines, all the difficulty of defining 'assault rifle' and 'semi-automatic rifles' is eliminated. The large capacity magazine itself, separate or attached to the firearm, becomes the prohibited item. A single amendment to Federal firearms laws could effectively implement these objectives.”

This might explain why the Ruger mini 14 comes from the factory with a five round magazine. His statement may also contribute to long-lasting bad feelings about the Ruger company. These feelings persist even after Bill Ruger's death in 2002. There was originally only a five round magazine for the mini 14. Today there are also plenty of larger magazines, including 20 round versions. The high capacity mags make this rifle more competitive with the AR.

Whatever task you have in mind for your mini 14, the ranch model will be a good choice. It won’t give you the same performance as an AR as a tactical rifle role. It will also not have the same precision as the target version of the mini 14. The target model has been in production since 2007. It comes without open sights and has a permanent picatinny scope rail. There are many other features for enhanced accuracy and precision as well. These include an upgraded stock and heavy barrel.

The target mini 14 is specialized for use with a telescopic sight. It also provides more accuracy than the basic ranch model because of its longer, heavier barrel. While the ranch model won’t match this precision, it will do an adequate job. It is certainly a more maneuverable package. Yet the epithet "jack of all trades master of none" certainly applies. 

In layman’s terms, a semi-automatic rifle, like the mini-14, will fire a round as fast as you can pull the trigger. Also known as an "autoloading" action, a semi-automatic firearm will fire a round every time you pull the trigger. It will also do everything required to make the weapon ready to fire again, at least for as long as there is ammunition. The typical image of a semi-automatic firearm nowadays looks like the AR15. It will be a black, or camouflaged, militaristic firearm often adorned with the most up to date gadgets and gizmos. However, the semi-automatic action is well over 100 years old.

The first successful auto-loading action was developed by Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher in 1885. By the early twentieth century semi-automatic firearms were common. Perhaps one of the most iconic was John Moses Browning’s Auto5 shotgun. As it’s name would suggest the Auto5 was released in 1905 and quickly became a classic. Semi-automatic rifles and pistols also became fairly common. It took them longer, however, to be adopted by the military. The French introduced the Fusile Automatique Modele 1917 into their nation’s arsenal in 1917. While it was used successfully in relatively large numbers, it did not replace traditional bolt action firearms. They remained the mainstay of military armament until 1937. That year the United States replaced their bolt action Springfield 1906 service rifle with the M1 Garand.

Figure 4; Fusile Automatique Modele 1917

This marked the first full scale adoption of semi-automatic rifles by any military.  In some senses the M1 Garand is the "grandfather" of the mini 14. The Garand was too heavy for support troops, such as radio operators and mortar men, and the military needed to equip paratroopers with lighter weapons. Therefore a lighter weight rifle was developed. These weapons paved the way for a gradual shift to semi-automatic firearms for military personal all over the world.

After NATO adopted the 7.62x51mm round, most European countries began using the FN FAL. The M14 replaced the Garand in the U.S. in 1957. Almost twenty years later the mini 14 got the name "mini" because of its similarities with the M14. As well as their obvious benefits for military applications, semi automatic firearms are great fun to shoot on the range. They also offer a significant advantage when controlling fast pests that move in a group, like hogs. 

Now you know the mini 14 ranch's history and how it works. So, you may be wondering which scope you should choose?

It's often impossible to pin down a single "right" scope for a rifle based on it's caliber. Some calibers are just to versatile. But the mini-14 ranch has a particular niche. The name "ranch" gives the niche away. It's aimed at use on the farm for varmints and general livestock protection. The fact that this firearm is semi-auto and relatively compact makes it a fairly good defensive gun as well. You may even use it to protect cattle from rustlers.

If we assume those two uses for this rifle, we can narrow down our scope options. 

The mini 14 ranch is not as accurate a platform as the AR or bolt action rifles. Therefore, you don't want to use it for longer range precision shooting. This rules out some of the more powerful 'varmint' scopes but a low- to mid-power scope would be ideal. You could also go with a more tactical option with longer eye relief and low magnification. Although do be aware that the 5.56mm bullet is not heavy to make the mini-14 a true brush gun.

Best General Purpose Scopes For Mini-14

Product

Magnification

Objective Lens

Target Turrets

Illuminated reticle

Dependant on model.

24- 56 dependant on model

No

Fibre Optic and Tritium illumination

4-16 in featured model but others are available

42 in featured model but others are available,

No

No

Dependant on model

Dependant on model

No

No

4-12

50

No

Yes

3-9 in featured model but others are available

40

No

No

Top 5 Scopes For Mini-14 on the Market Reviews

 1  ​Trijicon Accupoint

Trijocon are probably best known for their ACOG tactical optic. They also produce a range of excellent, high quality scopes. Using the same fibre optic technology that made the ACOG famous, the Acupoint scopes feature an illuminated reticle. It is available in a range of magnifications, reticle styles, and objective lens sizes.

A Low power and small objective lens allows for quick target acquisition. This scope would pair nicely with the lightweight, quick handling of the mini 14. If you want a bit more magnification and light gathering ability, you can still choose from larger models. Any option would serve you well. The ruggedness and reliability of Trijicon optics is second to none.

 2  ​​Vortex Diamondback 4-16x42

Vortex Optics produce a massive range of excellent scopes. There is not just one that would suit the mini 14. Many of Vortex's scopes would be a perfect match. You may not want their larger scopes aimed at target shooters. They would just add too much weight and bulk to the lightweight, fast handling mini 14. Plus, those large scopes would far outclass its ability to shoot distances. Some of the lighter-weight Vortex offerings would be perfect.

Try something like this Diamondback model. Offering a 42mm objective lens and a few reticle options, I would recommend the V-plex. It is a variable power scope that features a second focal plane reticle. Keep in mind this makes the value of mil dots and other reticle subtensions variable at range. They will consequently be less useful. The V-plex, though, is a great general-purpose reticle. It would be perfect for use with the mini 14 ranch.

 3  ​​​Nikkon Buckmaster II

I have always been impressed with Nikon Optics. They represent fantastic value for the money, great quality, and come with a good warranty. They are not expensive. They probably wouldn’t even compete with some of the higher end scopes by manufacturers such as Leupold. The Buckmaster II would more than work with your mini-14.

This particular model features a dead hold reticle. I tend to be wary of reticles which feature multiple subtensions in the second focal plane. But, the design of this specific reticle is very practical. The hollow aim points are very usable and intuitive. It’s a shame that more scopes don’t feature this style of reticle. Konus uses these hollow aim points quite effectively. Their quality really makes a difference in variable power scopes.

Dead Hold Reticle

Figure 5 Dead Hold Reticle

 4  ​​​​​UUQ C4-12x50 Rifle Scope Dual Illuminated

A Mini 14 is a seriously intense rifle. And it needs a scope that will match its hardcore shooting ability. The UUQ Rifle Scope might just be what the doctor ordered. So where do we begin with this bad boy? Yes, the design is pretty freakin’ rugged. In fact, it might just intimidate the crap out of some people.

But, it is not that scary. It has red and green illumination for use in low-light settings or when it’s gray and gloomy outside. You need the extra illumination to see the image picture better. You also have different cross-hairs to choose from. They allow you to make the most precise and accurate shots possible from distances up to 200 yards.

Since it’s made from high-quality aluminum, you’re probably going to end up using this scope for a long time. Why not? It won’t be thrown off by shock or recoil. And it certainly won’t fog up or get watered down. In fact, it’s one of those scopes that will hang with nature’s most adverse elements. No rain or snow will ever stand a chance of damaging this scope.

The UUQ Rifle Scope guarantees that you ever come home empty-handed again. That’s because the laser feature will ensure your shots are accurate and precise. Every kill shot will be right where you want it. Knowing where to aim gives you a better chance of killing instantly and more humanely. This is the kind of scope that will make you feel like an expert sharpshooter.

 5  ​​​​​Burris Fullfield

Burris have a great reputation as hunting scopes. They also produce the XTR II, a fantastical tactical/long range tool. The Fullfield series would be the ideal scope for using your mini-14 on the ranch. It gives enough magnification for almost all conceivable hunting and vermin control. It even has a decent light gathering ability.

With a Burris scope you also get to benefit from their fantastic build quality and warranty.

Best Optics for Défense

Product

Magnification

Objective Lens

Target Turrets

Illuminated reticle

4

32

No

yes

1 or 3 when combined with magnifier

N/A

No

yes

1

N/A

No

yes

1-4

28

No

yes

1-6

28

Yes

yes

 1  ​Trijicon ACOG 4x32

As far as tactical optics go, Trijicon and Eotech lead the way. Their ACOG sight is the perfect compliment to your defense rifle. It has rugged bordering and is indestructible. You can ask anyone who’s been in the U.S. military. Whether you choose to mount a reflex sight like the one in the picture is up to you. The reflex sight does add a degree of versatility for very close range shooting.

 The Trijicon ACOG isn’t cheap. They retail at around $1000, which is pricey compared to the affordable mini 14. For your money, however, you get a robust optic that will outperform the competition. Keep in mind that this optic features integral picatinny mounts. You will need to fit a picatinny rail to your mini-14 if you plan on using it.

 2  ​​EOTech XPS3

This product by EOtech is an open reflex sight. It is great for shooting with both eyes open. You can also use it for fast target acquisition. Some additional magnification will be useful on the ranch. I would recommend you pair it with the G33 Magnifier, also by EOTech.  

 3  ​​Aimpoint T2 Micro

Aimpoint has a fantastic pedigree as a manufacturer of weapon optics. Their first red dot sight hit the market back in 1974. Coincidentally, that was just a year after the mini 14.

This tiny optic is lightweight but very robust. The illuminated red dot and long eye relief is designed for "both eyes open" fast action shooting. This type of shooting is expected in a defensive scenario. Whether you are shooting vermin or protecting your life, this optic will have you covered. 

 4  ​​Steiner 5201 P3TR P4Xi

At first glance, this scope might seem quite similar to the Trijicon in the general shooting list. It is not that similar. The Steiner scope was designed specifically with military and law enforcement in mind.

Steiner has a fantastic reputation. You know this scope will be very reliable and rugged. It will serve well on top of your mini 14. Not all tactical optics have to have the reflex design. There are plenty of tactical applications for scopes. This product will give you a bit more precision than a reflex sight. It will also allow you to shoot with both eyes open and draw a bead on your target quickly.  

 5  ​​TAC Vector Optics Apophis

A super compact optic. This product features the slim, compact lines of the Trijicon Accupoint and Steiner offerings. It also combines its look with tactical turrets, BDC reticles to suit .223 and .308 calibres, and a budget price.

Conclusion

I like the traditional optics and would prefer them over a reflex sight on a mini-14. My overall first pick is the Trijicon Accupoint. I have a lot of experience with that scope. I especially like it’s suitability for both eyes open shooting and the fact it is so rugged. However I am very impressed by TAC Vector. Their mounts and accessories let them down. Still, I have been testing a TAC Vector on my .300 blackout recently and am very impressed. If you want a budget option, that would be a good pick. Ultimately any of these optics will serve you well though. So get out there and use them.